AVSIM Commercial Aircraft Review

Wilco/Feelthere PIC Embraer Legacy 600

Product Information
Publisher: Wilco/Feelthere
Description:  Luxury Corporate Jet addon for FS2004/FSX.
Download Size:
53.5 MB
Format:
Download or DVD
Simulation Type:
FS 2004/FSX
Reviewed by: Zane R. Gard Jr AVSIM Sr Staff Reviewer - November 5, 2006

Introduction

The Embraer Legacy 600 is the executive version of Embraer’s ERJ135/145 series of successful regional airliners and also goes by the model name ERJ-135BJ. This Brazilian beauty is a step up aircraft for corporations that have been flying Hawker 800’s, Learjet model 60’s or even Canadair’s Challenger. For about half the price of a Gulfstream G500 you can have nearly the same cabin size with just a little slower cruise speed. While the purchase price is a selling point, the real value comes when you view this aircraft’s heritage. Regional airliners are designed to fly 2,500 to 3,500 hours per year so this airframe and its systems have already had most of the bugs ironed out a long time ago, the average corporate aircraft sees one tenth of that airframe time for a given year.

When I reviewed the Feelthere Embraer ERJ-145 regional airliner a little over a year and a half ago, this is the aircraft I had actually been in and sat through a cockpit familiarization in. The cockpits of the ERJ-145, ERJ-135, and Legacy are all pretty much identical and they use the same type rating. If you are type rated in one of them you can fly any of them. Victor Racz and Feelthere starting getting requests before the release of the ERJ-145 for a 135 version and the decision was made to simulate the luxury corporate version at that time.

I think that was a good move because this is a pretty much untapped market right now in flightsimland. There’s just a handful of big corporate luxury jets out there and what better way to pretend your flying, than in a multi-million dollar elegant ship you could get up and virtually walk around in. Already been simming around in big iron and trying to follow those airline schedules to be as real as it gets? Step it up a notch or two and now you own the company that’s got this luxurious jet and now you can take a vacation to Hawaii, or the Orient, or the Bahamas… how about Veil? There’s only one other large airframe sim aircraft out there that reproduces a luxury corporate ship to this level, Ariane’s BBJ. And while it’s a whole bunch bigger, so far they haven’t allowed an AVSIM reviewer to put it under their critique.

If you recall my review of the Feelthere ERJ-145, you already know I was impressed with Feelthere’s capabilities to model, replicate the instrumentation and recreate the feeling of being in that jet. Now let’s go see what another year and a half of development and having the experience of a few more models under their belt has allowed them to do with this one.

Installation and Documentation

Installation was via a downloadable executable file which you are linked to following your initial purchase. You have to select the language you want used (English, French, Spanish or German), agree to their license agreement and then enter your registration code. In the installation process a manual with checklists is also installed that is available through the start menu under Wilco Publishing. Service pack 2 was released just after I downloaded my initial review copy and that entailed a 15.3 MB download involving the running of its installation program as well. Service pack 3 is still in the works and so is the FSX update which will be free.

Since I already have the ERJ-145, I had a head start on understanding how to operate the systems but I do recommend printing out the 26 page manual and checklist and using it as a reference on at least your first few flights. If you recall my ERJ-145 review, this is not an add-on aircraft you can just hop in and fly, there are procedures that must be followed for you to get the full enjoyment out of using it. The manual for the ERJ-145 seemed to be more comprehensive than this one but this one is laid out in a logical, easy to follow manner and is more concise.

Test System

Athlon 64 4000+
Asus A8N SLI Premium
2GB DDR3200
Windows XP Pro
ATI Radeon x800 256MB
21” Sony Trinitron @ 1600x1200x32
14” Compaq V410 @ 1028x768x32
Track IR4PRo
CH Products Yoke
CH Products Pro Pedals
CH Throttle Quadrant
Aerosoft ACP Compact

Flying Time:
34 hours

I’ll say it again… before even trying to fly it the first time read through the manual. One of the things you will need to know about is the Legacy Setup Utility, see… you do need to read it now, don’t you? This setup utility needs to be run to set user specific settings ranging from how you want to start up the Legacy to how you want the EFIS graphics to display and whether or not you prefer metric or standard readouts on your displays. I will refer back to my ERJ-145 article again and remind readers that Feelthere put a lot of work into replicating a working FADEC system on both of these jets. If you are using individual levers for your throttles and FSUIPC to calibrate them and set reverse thrust, you will have to use some specific settings just for this simulation to work correctly. Otherwise your throttles will be jumping all over the place and basically be uncontrollable. The manual actually doesn’t mention this potential problem, but you will read about it in Feelthere’s support forum and Pete Dowson includes specific instructions in his documentation for FSUIPC.

This aircraft includes a Heads Up Display (HUD) system which works in conjunction with the Inertial Reference System (IRS). The operation of the IRS is included in the documentation. The only mention of the HUD in the documentation is that the “w” key will switch it on and off in the 2D panel mode. I guess it is assumed that any user will know what to do with this type of display, and to a certain extent, the display itself is self explanatory if you already know what it is. If you read my review of the Majestic Dash 8 Q300 it also has a HUD system but its documentation is very clear on how to and when to use this type of system and even includes instructions for a demo flight.

You would use this type of system for a very low visibility IFR CatIII approach, which is the type of approach that when landing at the speeds this jet will fly at will mean you pretty much just get a glimpse of the runway through the fog right before flaring and touching the mains down. By viewing through the HUD the pilot has all the navigation information right in front of him/her superimposed on the glass screen so he/she can see right through the display to the outside view… critical for this type of landing procedure. It should have been covered in the manual and it would have really been nice if an example flight were included so those not familiar with such a system could learn about it.

I know I found myself quite frustrated when poking around the 2D panel and found the clickspot which opens the HUD, but there is no clickspot to close it or return to the regular 2D panel. When I finally figured which key presses get the 2D panel back, the HUD remained all shrunk up above the regular 2D panel and I couldn’t find how to disable it. Only one line in the manual instructs to use the “w” key to close the HUD… easy to miss even if you are looking for HUD instructions.

There are several versions of the Legacy model which you can select from in the “select aircraft” menu. Your choices are 2D panel with wingviews, 2D and VC with wingviews, 2D and VC with full cabin but no eye candy, and one with everything. This is also not covered in the manual but you can pretty much figure it out for yourself when selecting which version you want to fly with. This does allow users with less than optimum computer systems to select a version that will not bog down their system as much. I do appreciate having this selection because even though the Legacy has been optimized over the ERJ-145, it still puts a pretty heavy CPU load on your computer and after the newness of that virtual cabin and flight attendant wear off you can leave them off and enjoy more clouds and AI traffic.

Modelling

The Feelthere team hit the road running with their ERJ-145 and I said that model would stand head-to-head with the best available. This, their fourth release, is just as beautiful from the outside with all the smoothness and elegance the real jet has. It’s got all the animations, lighting, realistic textures and dynamic shine to keep the most dyed in the wool spot view junky happy.

A beautiful model that looks good from any angle at any time of day… yes that’s the flight attendant you can see inside

Open the door and step inside and you’ll get to see how the other half (that’s a very small half btw!) gets to jet set. The interior of the real Legacy is overflowing with jaw dropping lap of luxury. As you enter, you just stand there gawking at overstuffed leather seats, highly polished burled wood, marble countertops, a glass door galley showing off all the crystal glasses, gold inlayed trim and a walkway that winds back through three individual seating areas and it’s big… I mean BIG. The VC cabin includes all of this and is probably nicer than anything you have ever seen in a sim aircraft. You’ll need F1 view (included on the CD) or Active Camera to walk all the way around this cabin and you’ll notice I did say “need.” This is an impressive place to be and Feelthere captured the sheer decadence of it in a fashion that makes you not only feel there but want to stay there.

The virtual cabin will blow you away with three individual seating areas and luxurious appointments

If you load up the maxed out version of the Legacy, you are going to get true first class service from the first FS flight attendant. She is there to greet you at the door, stands working in front of the galley during taxi, takes her seat for takeoff and initial climbout through 10,000 feet, then returns to the galley to mix you a cocktail! This kind of animation is interesting to see once or twice and probably is more interesting to someone that likes sitting in the passenger seat of their sim and watching everything happen around them. I wish I was more excited about this because I know Victor and the Feelthere team put a lot or work into this animation, but now I’ve seen it.

While it was interesting and probably a lot of work, I use the version without the eye candy to save my CPU for clouds and AI traffic and other things that are more important to my kind of simming. One interesting note about the flight attendant, while she is seated you can watch her head disappear as you go further back into the rear part of the cabin, in the rearmost section she is headless… kind of creepy but since I've done beta testing for some other manufacturers I tend to notice things like this!

Animated flight attendant greets and services, but her head will disappear when seated!

Panel

The panel for the Legacy 600 is almost identical to the ERJ-145 in real life. The Feelthere/Wilco Legacy 600 panel adds the IRS system which is used for the heads up display (HUD in 2D mode only) and a working weather radar that is usable in both the 2D panel and the VC. Both are features new to this Legacy 600 model and not included in the ERJ-145. There are popups for the overhead display, center console, FADEC settings, pressurization controls and zooms for the EFIS’s. These are all nicely lit with a soft glow from indirect lighting at night, the VC counterpart is also nicely lit, although I found that during dawn/dusk operations the overhead console in the VC becomes impossible to see because the illumination cancels during this time of day but the remaining panel is still very dark and not in keeping with the surrounding textures.

2D panel day view with popups
2D panel with night lighting and showing overhead popup

Feelthere’s simulation of the Honeywell Primus 1000 five tube EFIS system received rave reviews from me when I tested it in their ERJ-145 and my praise in this aircraft is the same. From the VC, the pilot’s and copilot’s displays are independent so you can fly from either position. These are easy to read, follow function for function how their real world counterparts work and via the setup utility can be configured to your specific graphics capabilities and even update speed so you can make it work on your system the way you want it to.

Nice VC pilot’s perspective VC pedestal VC overhead panel
Even getting up close and personal the VC details really look good and show the amount of work

I have to say that in the VC, the Legacy panel looks better than the ERJ-145. It looks like a little more time was spent getting little details to look better, so if you come in real close to look at the panel it still looks good. One feature the Legacy has that the ERJ-145 release didn’t have is functioning windshield wipers. Now the funny thing about this is that Feelthere got many requests for this feature only to find out that most Legacy’s don’t have it.

VC from first officer’s perspective

If you like to use the bearing pointers on your PFD, you are going to notice that these are displaying an error and are off by about the same figure as the mag variation where you are flying. This is happening in FMS or VOR pointers and is on the list of fixes that will be addressed with SP3.

There are a few “cheats” available to help get you up and flying quicker. You can load your FS flight plan into the FMS with the click of a button which saves manual entry. I like and appreciate the manual entry option in the FMS but there are times I just want to get up and fly and not simulate sitting on the ground prepping for a flight. On the PFD you can have the sim calculate your takeoff speeds and set bugs on the airspeed tape display, this is something you can’t do in the real aircraft. You have to look these speeds up in a chart based on takeoff weight, current conditions and FADEC settings. The big cheat, and there are simmers that are going to love this, is you can set the autopilot to have an autothrottle. The real ERJ’s don’t have an autothrottle and you have to manually control thrust settings in cruise to maintain your cruise speed and avoid an overspeed.

The Radio Management Units (RMU) are fully programmed to simulate all their real world functions. These include an engine backup page, cross side operation, a nav backup page, which makes it operate like an EHSI, and memory functions to store preset frequencies. What I have to say I don’t like is if you are using ACP Compact or GoFlight equipment, you don’t see the alternate frequency being tuned (if you use your mouse on the screen it does work). The workaround is to change the aircraft.cfg file so that you don’t have standby frequencies on the radios, which means when you turn the knobs on your expensive hardware they directly change the working frequency, not the standby frequency.

I’ll also refer back to reading the manual because the ERJ series use very complex systems to automate so many things that reduce pilot workload. You need to know what order to do things so that it all works. You need to know what part of the overhead panel to "right click" so you can start the engines. When prepping for taxi and takeoff, you basically just have to turn all the lights off on the buttons on the overhead. The way this system works is if something is lit up you need to pay attention to it, so if it is all black it is good. You also need to know how to disable the gustlock for the throttle to allow forward thrust.

Now I did find that you can fly from the VC from startup to shutdown, save for three items. The HUD is not available from the VC, it is 2D only and the reasons should be obvious. The weather radar control buttons don’t work from the VC, you have to switch to 2D to manipulate them, this is fixed in the upcoming SP3. The cruise setting button on the pedestal for the engine’s FADEC system doesn’t seem to work in the VC, you can bring up the throttle pedestal or just the thrust rating 2D popup. Outside of those items this should keep 2D only and VC only simmers happy.

Sound Set

The soundest is going to sound familiar to anyone that already has the Feelthere ERJ-145, because they are close to identical. Don’t fix what ain’t broke! This is a great sound package that includes the soft rush of the engines way back there, some wind noise at speed and all the clicks, warning buzzers, stick shaker sounds and a full TAWS (traffic and terrain avoidance and warning system).

Ready For A Real Flight?

I find simming around in aircraft like this most interesting when I am duplicating a real world flight. For those of you that don’t know about FlightAware, it is a website that will give real time information as well as archived information on any IFR flight into or out of the US. If you own and operate your own business aircraft, it can be used as a record of your use to justify operating expenses. I found a flight originating from my home base KHIO and flying down to Willy’s KIWA in Arizona. Having just reviewed Art Martin’s Phoenix v2, this seemed like a perfect destination so I planned an early morning flight so we could capture some shots showing the night lighting of the Legacy and day shots for our landing. It would also give me a chance to revisit Art’s photoscenery and see just how well a high demand complex aircraft flying into high demand scenery at high speed would fare.

Pulling onto rwy 30 KHIO Vr and rotating Climbout leaving KHIO pre FZ02

Our takeoff from KHIO was in the normal partial overcast for this area and climbout pretty uneventful. One thing I would have liked to have been able to do is use the TCS (Touch Control Steering) on initial climbout when engaging the autopilot. This is how it is done in the real aircraft… you are established on climbout and over 1,000’ AGL, you switch on the autopilot and hold the TCS button on the yoke and the autopilot will hold your present pitch and bank angle. This comes preprogrammed in the "ini" file for the Legacy for your joystick’s button number 1 (most people’s brake button). Problem is, if you use multiple pieces of hardware, (ie, yoke, throttle quadrant, rudder pedals) your joystick numbering is different. As my luck would have it, my yoke is joystick number three. The present "ini" file is set to handle up to two joysticks. SP3 will handle up to 8 devices and I hope the same is written for the ERJ-145, because I’d like to use this feature in both. This feature also allows for setting the bank angle for the autopilot so all turns are at that set angle.

Switching on weather radar Radar shows in VC Now we can see that weather!

I switched on the radar during the climb and both the 2D and VC panel show the radar display. If flying from the VC, you are going to have to switch back to the 2D panel to make any changes to the display if you are using the radar, as those buttons are only active in the 2D panel. This is on the list of changes when SP3 gets released.

Enroute we watched a beautiful sunrise over the cloudtops

Enroute we passed over the Hoover Dam, which is always an interesting site from the air. With the TrackIR, I could even edge over to the side of the aircraft and get a glimpse down at it from the pilot’s side window. Approach started our descent a little over 60 miles out, so I set the new altitude and hit the FLC button on the autopilot and throttled back so we would start coming down.

Passing over Hoover Dam

As I had imagined, coming in high and fast over the photoscenery of Phoenix I was met with some pretty fuzzy textures as my CPU and graphics card tried to battle with running the avionics on the plane, the flight attendant, AI traffic, weather via ASv6 and VoxATC. Since I was coming in too high, I chose to enter a holding pattern at my initial approach fix for KIWA and the time spent descending in that holding pattern allowed the textures to load nicely and the rest of the approach looked quite impressive out the windows.

A nice ending sequence of approach and landing at Willy’s

Conclusion

Feelthere has produced another fabulous Embraer jet in the Legacy 600. If having a true luxury corporate jet, one you really can walk around from section to section in, is to your liking this is the one to get. If you already have the ERJ-145, your going to find this is very familiar territory and unless you just have to have that virtual cabin, or the IRS/HUD, you probably don’t need to spend the money for almost the same thing. If you held off on the ERJ-145 but were sorely tempted, I do like this one better than the ERJ-145 and can highly recommend it.

With FSX upon us, it is comforting to know that this is an FSX design and the upgrade will be at no charge. So you can put it on your present FS2004 installation and upgrade when you move to FSX.

I am looking forward to SP3 to remedy a few of the items mentioned in the review.

 

What I Like About the Legacy
  • Beautifully modeled aircraft with full animations, reflections and night lighting textures
  • Very accurate flight dynamics with functional FADEC system for engine management
  • Highly accurate autopilot modeling with FLC function
  • Honeywell Primus 1000 Glass panel simulated extremely well with fully functional FMS
  • IRS and HUD simulated in 2d panel
  • Free upgrade to FSX

 
What I Don't Like About the Legacy
  • Lack of documentation for HUD operation
  • Full version still hard on frame rates
  • Error in Nav pointers (to be fixed in SP3)
  • Buttons for EFIS not operational in VC when using the radar (to be fixed in SP3)
  • TCS button limitations (see text, to be fixed in SP3)
  • Overhead panel in VC too dark during dawn/dusk operations

Printing

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Embraer Legacy 600

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